As mailers feverishly work on implementation of Intelligent Mail® Full-Service before the January 26, 2014 deadline to retain automation discounts, there are a lot of tasks on your “to-do” list. One task that may get overlooked is the ongoing communication with the local postal acceptance staff to review the changes in mail acceptance and verification.
The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) is also working hard to get prepared for the January 2014 deadline, and that includes training and documentation for postal acceptance units. That is a daunting task given the sheer size of the USPS, so there are definitely offices where this training has not yet taken place.
The issue this creates for mailers is that your local postal resources may not be able to provide much guidance for you during your Intelligent Mail implementation process. In some cases, the local postal acceptance staff may even be providing incorrect or misleading information due to this lag in training. Some examples that our clients have experienced include requests for hard copy documentation when electronic documentation is being used, conflicting information regarding when palletization is required for Full-Service mail, requests for qualification reports representing partial mailings rather than the full mailings, and others. In some cases, mailers are even being told that their post office does not (and will not, even in January 2014) support Intelligent Mail Full Service!
This situation can make an already challenging process even more frustrating. However, mailers do have resources you can use in cases such as these. The best advice is to work with the USPS Business Mail Entry (BME) office that services your local post office, along with the Business Service Network (BSN). These resources can not only provide the up-to-date information you need to complete your implementation project, but they can help to get training and other resources for your local postal acceptance unit.
We strongly encourage mailers to get Full-Service implemented in advance of the January 2014 deadline so that you don’t risk loss of lucrative automation discounts. Keep in mind that the Full-Service deadline occurs at the same time that the USPS postage rate changes for 2014 go into effect, which also includes new versions of Mail.Dat® and Mail.XML™. Add to the mix the busy mailing and holiday season, and you have even more reason not to procrastinate. As part of your implementation project, make sure you include your local postal acceptance unit early on, and reach out to the BME and BSN as needed to make sure you will have a smooth transition to Full-Service.